Illinois Waterway Visitor Center – Ottawa, IL

Once Ole Man River is in your blood, it is there forever. So it is with us, we can never pass up a chance to enjoy river activity. Being from south Louisiana where the Mississippi is wide and treacherous, a slower calmer river always intrigues us.  

Driving along the Illinois River we saw a tow heading up river. We knew it was headed to our destination – Lock and Dam 6 or better know as the Starved Rock Lock and Dam at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. It is named after the State Park located across the river from the lock. Since tows move rather slow especially upriver, we were able to reach the lock first. This allowed us the perfect viewing spot for their entry into the lock.

Pushing Into the Lock

The lower Mississippi has mainly large towboats with as many as 35 barge tows. Here there are smaller towboats pushing fewer barges. Part of the reason is the locks are small and the tows many times have to break apart and go through the lock in two or three pieces. This ACBL (American Commercial Barge Lines) tug was able to push all his barges in, unhook and pull along side the tow. When dealing with locks one must have patience, it is a hurry up and wait situation. Our waiting mode lasted until our stomachs called us to lunch. We left while the tow was still in the locks and headed to a local eatery.

Locked in and waiting

Life on the water is a unique style and culture. One thing is certain you see life from a slower pace, you watch the world go by as you push through the various waterways.

Closing Locks

Tug and tow reconnecting; ready to push on upriver

Visitor Center

Pilot House Exhibit


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